Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ryan Adams screws Salt Lake City, 7/31/07.

Ryan Adams is a jerk. To those who know him and love him regardless, this is no revelation. He gets in fights with other bands. He gets in fights with those in the audience (throwing out someone for making that old “We want Bryan Adams!” joke). He rambles all over the stage, choosing to talk more than play. He falls off the stage and breaks limbs. He gets too inebriated to do much else. He’s beautifully fractured.

Then again, that’s the old Ry-Ry, am I right? He’s cleaned up his act, yeah? Cut his hair, added a mess of Cardinals to custom create his own Dead jam sound, put out some of the best songs of his uneven career and started to play nice for once. He even stopped drinking! He went stone cold sober! (Or so he says.

All that aside, he’s still a jerk. He proved it in Salt Lake City Tuesday night. For just about 90 minutes, he gave us song after solid song, mostly sounding alright and completely behaving. He did force a sold-out Red Butte audience to listen to the same looped (and loud!) Edith Piaf album for a good 2-3 hours before he showed his face and he did cut his sound check short with “There’s too many bees out here. I’m going back to my trailer,” but nobody was going to argue with how nice things sounded.

Oh, and there was that back-and-forth he had with the guy near the front when he responded “Oh, it’s not fast enough for you? I didn’t play that fast enough?”, but he wasn’t complaining about the sound. (And, truth here … it was an incredibly slow MOR set. Honestly, we could have all been that guy.)

He did venture all over his catalog, offering greats like “Wild Flower”, “What Sin Replaces Love”, “Peaceful Valley”, “Cold Roses”, “Oh, John”, “Dear Chicago” and “Easy Plateau” … along with, oh, 10 others. And he did it from the comfort of his chair. All of it. If you were to see Ryan and his band take their seats at the beginning, lain down and closed your eyes until the final song, you would have opened your eyes to exactly the same scene as when they started. Nothing changed, things hardly moved.

In one friend’s summation, “It was pretty much the lamest show I’ve ever been to.” She could have stayed at home and listened to her radio and it’d have been about the same, she said. I won’t argue with that.

I did want it to be more than what it was. I did expect more than pretty songs that played out prettily. I wanted some grit and rock with the sad bastard tunes, but those hopes were never quite realized. I wanted more because I knew he was capable of it. Was it pleasant? Yes. But, when he said, “Thanks, Salt Lake City. It’s been really exciting playing for you,” in a complete monotone, nobody believed him. Sarcasm, thy name is Ryan.

We wanted to believe he’d come back for an encore. We wanted “Halloweenhead” in the worst way. When the flood lights came on and the speakers started blasting “Rock the Casbah”, we tried cheering over it. It didn’t work. We stood for a good 10 minutes or more, giving him a chance at redemption. He never returned. He’d given us a called-in performance and wasn’t going to be bothered with niceties.

Was it simply a bad night for him? Was it the bees that set him off? Or does he need to start hitting the bottle all over again if he’s going to tap into that part of him that at least attempts to perform? Sure, he may break his arm in the process again, but at least he’d go out in a blaze of glory. At least he’d be trying to put on some kind of show.

When my buddy Dave walked up after and said, “Well, we got our Ryan Adams experience,” he said a real mouthful. I have a feeling that, if he ever comes back, there won’t be nearly as many who want to have that experience again. When and if that day comes, I’ve already decided I’m going to opt out. I’ll turn up my
Cold Roses on my stereo and call it good.


Please Do Not Let Me Go
Oh My God, Whatever Etc.
Let It Ride
What Sin
Peaceful Valley
Bartering Lines
Cold Roses
Blue Hotel
Dear John
Dear Chicago
Magnolia Mountain
Goodnight Rose
A Kiss Before I Go
Easy Plateau


Krispy said...

Now I'm not so sad I didn't make it.

Sherpa said...

Its been weird this year. Personally, I could care less that he's an ass, as long as he delivers the music. However, there's been more reports of lame shows this year than before. Which is even lamer, because when he's on he's awesome.

No Halloween Head? You were ripped!

Surly Temple said...

Aw, c'mon. The guy's cleaned up and as they say in "the biz," the music's the thing that matters. What did you want him to do, get up and do high kicks and pelvic thrusts to his latest cover of Yellow Submarine? Performers who sound as good live as their albums mean a lot! I admit I wanted to hear Halloweenhead too, but with such a huge catalogue at his disposal why not pull something from everything, stuff he hasn't played recently and is probably not bored to tears playing? I have a couple of shows he did in Paris live and they were all different music than this. That makes me happy, too.

Then again, I'm pretty sure he was dedicating every song to me anyway ;)

Angie said...

I concur Dainon.

Dainon said...

I wish I could say I agree with you, Surly, but I don't (obviously). You don't sell out a place and record jaw-droppingly (yeah, I just wrote that) good songs only to deliver what comes off as a tepid, substandard concert performance. You oughta know this. Song selection is not something I'm so concerned with. Actually having some interaction with the audience and performing songs like you don't sound you're your own karaoke version of yourself and shaking your tailfeather once in a while, now, that kind of artist I can get behind. We don't just want to hear it ... we want to FEEL it. We want to know that you feel it, too.

Eh, once Ryan gets over himself, he ought to study up on the way Prince goes about delivering solid concert after concert, straight into his 50s. It's not about you ... it's about those who dropped $40 to see you and counted on a rock solid show to go with their summer night.

f*bomb. said...

Maybe Salt Lake was just so hot it made him want to DIE.

Performance makes SUCH a difference in a show. Not a whole lot of artists really get the art of performance anymore. The Four Tops, Elvis, The Supremes- THOSE people knew how to rock a crowd. I booked a really nice guy for a really great venue, and he was SO grateful for the opportunity that he suddenly became a giant IDIOT and got DRUNK before his show, embarassing me, himself, and anyone else who was paying attention to what an ass he became.

Why artists can't just suck it up and hold it together for one stupid hour is BEYOND me. At least Ryan didn't pee his pants in front of you. Apparently, there are some people who do that.

f*bomb. said...

Actually, climate aside, that outdoor concert was my ABSOLUTELY MOST FAVOUITE PART of my time in SLC.
Ryan has NO EXCUSE.

Genevieve said...

Thanks for quoting me, D. Ryan Adams gets the cut off.

Sarahbellum said...

The bees? Come on at least blame it on the wind. The only part that annoyed me was the press photographer request.

At least he played and didn't ramble on about nothing.

mike said...

Yeah, he could have at least silenced everyone and started clapping so children in Africa would die.

Dainon said...

And, to explain the obscure reference, I gotta share this now:

Bono, the lead singer of the band, U2, is famous throughout the entertainment industry for being more than just a little self-righteous.

At a recent U2 concert in Glasgow, Scotland, he asked the audience for total quiet. Then, in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands, once every few seconds. Holding the audience in total silence, he said into the microphone, "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies."

A voice with a broad Scottish accent from the front of the crowd pierced the
quiet. . .

"Well, foockin stop doin it then, ya evil basturd!"

Sherpa said...

Maybe Salt Lake was just so hot it made him want to DIE.

Dude's from NC and he's been living in nyc for close to ten years.....which gets so much hotter than SLC...

Sarita said...

It was peaceful and I actually did lay back and just watch the clouds for a bit. Even saw a shooting star.


Could have done that with a good recording and sound system. Live concerts are all about entertainment. And some kind of connection with the artist. While I'm not asking for fieworks and hydraulics, or an hour monolouge before each song, a little display of humanity is all. Give me reason to believe that it's actually Ryan up there and not some poser in sunglasses playing some really boring airguitar.

At least some inkling that playing for us isnt a total inconvenience.

aisy said...

i debated long and hard on going to that concert... glad i didn't waste my money.

Dainon said...

I won't say it was a waste of money (eh, it was a birthday present, after all) and, while I'm still glad in some strange sense that I went, it was fairly aggravating. He's gotta make it so hard for us to love him completely, don't he?

The McGuffin said...

Dainon, a very good bud of mine saw Ryan at The Moore in Seattle last week...he had the same complaints...and he loves Ryan Adams.


Dainon said...

That was as funny as it was eerie. Were we at the same show? Is this the Ryan Adams and his Boring Cardinals tour?

Eric said...

It sounds like the exact same show. Even the setlist you listed sounds exactly the same. We could switch posts and it would still be entirely accurate. It was funny...before the show, I was trying to convince my wife to drive to Boise (8 hours) two days later to see him. By the time the show was over, we both wondered if we EVER wanted to see him again. All in all, a complete disappointment.

Dr. Neuroplastic said...

He could've been lying down for all I care, I just wish he didn't pad each song with an 8-minute Cardinal jam practice.

lara said...

now i don't feel so shitty about getting drunk and not hearing anything he said and only hearing the wonderful music. after the set i met the cardinals but he walked right past my friend and i into the woods, not even looking up at us. if he still drank like he did in the good old days, i'm sure he would've came and said hi. w/e

Ninny Beth said...

thanks for the recap D. It's good to know that I can stop hating him for coming to SLC too late and start hating him for being crappy in RL. I wonder if I should start applying the surprise principle to my concert ticket purchases...it is better to be surprised by a new band's hardcore performance (css) than to spend money and be lacklustered to death by an old love (elvis costello :( )

By the way, most boring concert award goes to Mazzy Star. I don't know what I was expecting, but two hours of swaying in drug induced warbling was NOT "it".